This morning, we got up at 4am. On purpose. See, our tuk tuk driver had told us the day before that if we wanted to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat, he'd pick us up at 4:30. This seemed early, given that the internet said sunrise would be at 6:25, but we didn't argue.
Of course, he was perfectly correct. We walked through the temple in the dark to get to the best sunrise viewing area and claimed one of the last remaining seats (rocks) at the edge of the water. Slowly the area got more and more packed full of tourists.
Despite the crowd, it was quiet thanks to the early hour. Then two guys walked over in between the temple and the hundreds of people who got out of bed at 4am for an unobstructed photo. One walked around shining a flashlight on the temple. The other, a guy in a red shirt, plunked down across the water from us and played on his phone.
The crowd did not stay quiet. There were people speaking several different languages, but all saying the same things about the same people in the same tone of voice.
Those assholes really brought us all together.
Later, after sunrise (photos to come once I'm home and not posting from my phone) and seeing the temple, we had breakfast at one of the stands out front. At every tourist site here, children approach selling magnets, post cards and sequined fans. This time we were approached by a boy and girl, who were apparently not working together.
Girl: One magnet for one dollar.
Boy: Three magnets for one dollar.
Girl: Five magnets for one dollar.
Boy: Ten magnets for one dollar.
Girl: Hundred magnets for one dollar.
Boy: Million magnets for one dollar.
You may wonder how we could turn down such an incredible offer, but A) we don't have that kind of backpack space and B) by the time they'd gotten to ten, they'd clearly given up on us and we're just trying to irritate one another. They looked to be about six years old.
And that's your Angkor Wat color commentary. Join us next time for...somewhere else...
Internet, I'm finished with grad school! I submitted my last paper last Monday and while I wasn't actaully concerned about failing, it was still nice to get my grade and know that I really did offically qualify to have attended graduation on Saturday, had I been inclined to fly 11,000 miles to do so.
Instead, we had a party here. I forgot to take any pictures after this one of the lights Raj put up in our back yard.
Clearly I took that through our dirty patio door. So pretty much a total failure on the photographical documentation. Fortunately, the food was a much bigger success.
We were expecting around 25 people. I planned to have pretty much all the food done ahead. On Thursday night I made the white chocolate pretzel Oreo candy cane bark from this post and I spent the rest of the day and night on Friday after work making bacon cheddar puffs, biscochitos, eggnog cookies, and chocolate crinkle cookies. With a cheese board, veggies and salsa romesco, and crock pot spinach artichoke dip, I figured we'd be all set.
Then while lying in bed Friday night, we started actually adding up all the people who had RSVPed on the Facebook invitation with the people who had responded to Raj's work email or mentioned that they were planning to come and it came to more like 40 people. So Saturday morning Raj went to the commissary to get me supplies to also make quinoa tabbouleh, polenta triangles with marinara dipping sauce, and the peanut butter cup cookies that ended up being the hit of the party, along with the mulled wine Raj made. And we had crock pot hot chocolate with marshmallows, candy cane bits, and bottles of Kahlua and Bailey's for self-spiking.
We ended up with closer to 30 or 35 people and lots of leftover cookies (though none of the peanut butter cup ones) even after I set out leftover favor bags from our wedding and convinced some of the people to take cookies home. Fortunately, we were already signed up to take a dessert to a dinner in the barracks Tuesday night. (That is, unless we eat all the leftover cookies by then.) We came out pretty well on the food though, in terms of not having very many leftovers.
Raj got me a Kindle Paperwhite for my graduation gift. While I do love a paper book (especially with a nice crinkly libray cellophane cover) all the traveling this year has really sold me on the utility of one small device that holds many books so I don't have to figure out how many books to pack and then make space for them. Especially since we're leaving this week for three weeks in Cambodia and Vietnam. I need to get started downloading some books.
I also need to get some visa photos taken, make a packing list, pack, and do about a million other things before we leave. (One of those things: make peace with the idea that Christmas cards are just not happening this year. That ship has sailed, Lori. Let it go, let it gooooo!) So what I'm saying is that I better get going.
I hope you enjoy any and all celebrations you've got going on, hopefully with lots of time off from work and many delicious treats. I'll be back in mid-January with lots of trip photos and absolutely no studying to do.
I wasn't always an adventurous eater. In fact, I was what you'd call a picky eater for my first couple of decades. One of my first real forays outside my rather limited comfort zone was dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant while I was on a trip to DC just before I moved there. It would not have been my choice, but I was with my friend Jennie, staying with her cousins who were taking us to the theater, and they picked the restaurant.
I was nervous. What if there wasn't anything I could eat? What if I couldn't pronounce the name of anything on the menu? It turned out though that everything was delicious. I think I did order some kind of sampler menu to avoid having to pronounce the unfamiliar words. This has turned out to be a pretty good strategy in the years since then, during which I've tried pretty much every kind of ethnic food available to me.
Recently, I was watching Anthony Bourdain eating his way through Vietnam and one thing in particular looked especially delicious to me. It was a sandwich called banh mi. I've learned since then that it's becoming a trendy food in the US. It's a legacy of the French colonization, what with the baguette and mayonnaise.
Inspired by Anthony Bourdain, I googled banh mi recipes and found one that looked both manageable and delicious. Broiled garlicky chicken breasts. Onions, carrots, and daikon radish quick pickled in rice vinegar plus thin sliced cucumber. Mayo, sriracha (more for Raj than for me), cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. You guys. Seriously, you want to make this. ASAP.
The recipe I started from is here. The problem with this recipe is that it's for one sandwich. Why on earth would I want to make only one of these? I quadrupled the recipe so we could each have a sandwich for dinner, plus leftovers for lunch. (What happened though was that we each had one and a half and then I ate the other one for lunch the next day. It pays to be the one who's home for lunch some days.) Here's how I did it:
2 cups rice vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup sugar (I'll use less next time, but I like things SUPER tart, so you may want to stick with the full cup)
1 cup carrots cut into matchsticks (I bought them precut to save time and lessen the chances of self-maiming)
1 cup white daikon radish cut into matchsticks (if your grocery store doesn't have it, you could check an Asian market or just increase the carrots and onion by 1/2 cup each to make up for leaving it out)
1 cup thinly sliced white onion
3 skinless boneless chicken breasts (sure, quadrupling the recipe should mean four, but they come in packs of three here and it seemed sufficient)
garlic salt and black pepper to taste
4 12-inch baguettes or sandwich rolls
1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
mayonnaise to taste
Sriracha to taste (the recipe calls for a jalapeno, but the comments suggested using sriracha instead, which meant less chopping and no searching the commissary to see if they happened to have jalapenos that day)
chopped fresh cilantro (the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon per sandwich - I'm pretty sure we used a lot more than that)
1 lime, quartered
Bring water, sugar, and vinegar to a boil over medium heat, stirring, and boil until the sugar has dissolved, about one minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Pour cooled vinegar mixture over onion, carrot, and daikon in a bowl and let stand for at least 30 minutes. (Your house is going to smell powerfully of vinegar, just FYI.) Then drain off excess liquid.
Preheat your broiler (the recipe doesn't specify to what - mine was at 500) and set the rack 6 inches from the heat source.
Sprinkle chicken breasts with garlic salt and pepper. The recipe says to put it on a lightly oiled slotted broiling pan. I don't have one, so I put mine on tin foil on a regular roasting pan. Broil until chicken is browned and no longer pink inside, turning once. This is supposed to take about 6 minutes per side. Mine took longer, but my oven may not have been nearly hot enough when I started.
Slice and broil or toast your bread. (The recipe wants you to pull the middle out of your bread to create a cavity for your sandwich filling. I did not do that.)
Spread mayo on both sides of your toasted bread, add sriracha, then chicken, vegetables, cucumber slices, and cilantro. Squeeze lime over it and put the top on.
Enjoy over a plate. Some of your sandwich filling is going to fall out and you don't want it to end up in your lap or worse, on the floor, which may make you feel you can't then eat it. Trust me, you won't want to waste any.
*Apparently this can be done with any sort of protein (fish or shrimp seem like easy substitutions) or even scrambled eggs, in case chicken isn't your thing.
Whoa. Ten? How is that even possible? I don't remember having started this blog while in high school but that must be what happened. Yup.
So for the tenth time, I present my list of things I am grateful for this year, as ever in no particular order:
Cuffed jeans are back! This is a boon to short girls everywhere. Particulary those who have no personal access to the Gap where they sell the ankle length jeans that fit without hemming.
The new super-soft Tommy Hilfigger jeans that I got for about $20 at the Exchange that would be too long, but for the item listed just above.
Starborough Sauvignon Blanc, aka starfish wine, aka the decent white wine they carry at the shoppette on our base.
My coworkers who have generously helped me out with grad school requirements. I was a little bit panicked when I saw that for one class I had to lead a discussion group of teachers and go through a coaching cycle (observe a lesson, model a lesson, plan a lesson together, observe that lesson, give feedback) with a teacher. The teachers I work with volunteered for both.
My capstone project paper is DONE! Well, ok, I have some revisions to do and I'm trading papers with my assigned partner to proofread, but I have no research and very little writing to go. It's due next Tuesday, so then I'm really and truly free of it.
Only TWO MORE WEEKS of my other two classes after the Thanksgiving break and then I'm finished with grad school!
Friends to celebrate with on my graduation day since no, we are sure as heck not flying to Missouri in December to attend graduation on a campus I've never seen
At least one more subtropical winter, probably two. Snow and freezing temperatures: I do not miss you.
This at-home keratin treatment which made my hair oh so much less frizzy this summer while costing oh so much less than a salon treatment.
Shout Advanced, which is magic for those of us who are somewhat prone to spilling
TOMS! Why did I wait so long to get a pair of these shoes?
My handsome kind, supportive, and thoughtful husband who makes me laugh and does the dishes. And also paid all of my tuition.
Raj didn't have to be away nearly so much this year and doesn't have to work crazy long hours too often these days.
TV shows we both like - Vikings, The Americans, New Girl, and The Mindy Project
Ok, maybe I mostly like Mindy and he tolerates it? I'm also enjoying Madam Secretary, which I think he is less into than I am.
Our kayaks, which get us out to the beach more often
So many trips this year, including two trips to celebrate with good friends as they got married.
A trip coming up (leaving on Christmas, in fact) to Vietnam and Cambodia
Our parents and friends who flew all the way to Asia this year to see us
My dad got a scary diagnosis this year, but his prognosis turned out to be much better than expected.
This Thanksgiving, unlike last year, I'm not making an 18-pound turkey, gravy, rolls, roasted vegetables, and two pies by myself. Or even cooking at all! We're headed up to mainland Japan, sort of a do-over on the trip that got canceled by the typhoon last month.
Like I say every year, I'm thankful for the things I tend to forget the rest of the year really are luxuries in this world: a supportive family, good friends, a safe home, clean water, plenty of food, reliable electricity, an education, and access to health care.
In light of recent events, I feel I also have to say that while I'm thankful for my own safety, I can only hope that one day, no parents will have to prepare their children to not be safe in their communities because of their skin color. I hope women's voices will be taken seriously when we are or feel unsafe.
I'm thankful that there are lots of people working to make a better world a reality. And as always, I am thankful for you.
Happy Thanksgivng, Internet. I hope wherever you are, you are warm, safe, and loved. And if there's pie where you are, so much the better.
A friend of mine posted this picture on Facebook just before Halloween.
Yeah, at least that person's pumpkin made it outside. Mine is exactly where I put it upon bringing it home from the commissary. I plunked it down in the middle of the Hawaii bowl that was a wedding gift and serves as our normal dining table centerpiece. Instant fall centerpiece.
I did not stage this photo in any way. It wasn't until after I took it that I noticed the bag of pumpkin seeds next to my uncarved pumpkin. Rest assured, those seeds also came from the grocery store in the form of a prepackaged snack. They are located on the far side of the pumpkin because when I've eaten enough, I have to physically remove them from arms' reach of where I sit in front of my computer. The grad school explosion on that table has only gotten worse since this was taken.
Here's something that's a little bit spooky: I've never purchased Burt's Bees lip balm online.
So this ad appearing while there was one siting right next to my computer (I have to minimize my excuses for getting up) made it feel a little bit like someone in there was looking out.
Raj and I actually did spend some time looking at couples' costumes online for inspiration since we were invited to a party. Then he found out he had to leave that day for the field, so I'd be on my own. His field exercise involved a mass casualty drill, so though it was unrelated to Halloween, he did spend time in our kitchen the night before making fake blood and skin so he could transform Marines into faux-casualties.
Left to my own devices, I was planning to just resurrect an old costume, but decided to go wander around the hundred yen store to see if inspiration would strike. I'd seen a costume on Pinterest (of course - where else) that seemed like something I could pull off with minimal time, effort, and expense. Also, I'd be able to wear comfortable clothes and flip flops. I just had to figure out some logistics.
Supplies: bucket, plastic Uncle Sam hat, pom pom (not pictured: lots of non-waterproof mascara)
I'm the ice bucket challenge. Originally, I was thinking maybe I could somehow wire the bucket to a headband so it would actually be suspended above my head, which would have made this look less like a hat with blue hair, but also seemed like more work than just cutting the rim off a plastic hat and sticking it on with packing tape. I tried to think of a way to simulate ice, but nothing came to me in the roughly 20 minutes I put into this costume. I did put a truly disgusting amount of gel in my hair while it was still wet to try to keep it looking that way.
The downside to a topical costume is that it won't work again in future years, but now we do have an extra bucket and I can stick 1 1/2 blue pompoms in the Halloween bin.
You know, eventually. When I return to cleaning my house someday.
Alisa asked (via Twitter since Typepad was being uncooperative with her intended comment) for more weird Asian signs. And since this requires so little work from me, I can even get this entire post done and posted within the same week as another post! Whoa!
Outside the restaurant in a seafood market in Hong Kong
Don't leave your dog's poop on the sidewalk in Macau!
At Okinawa World, they have some habu snakes on display. You should not throw Coke cans at them or they will cry. (Please note that habu snakes are not this adorable. Or adorable at all.)
This sign, asking you to wait to board the bullet train while they clean it, while characteristically adorable isn't the funny part. The funny part is what Google Translate told us the top of this sign says in English.
This is from the castle grounds in Kyoto. Maybe they don't want artists setting up to sketch or paint there? If so, then this sign specifically prohibits me since scribbling is a pretty accurate term for my attempts at the visual arts.
Where else but Japan would you be informed about your upcoming available-for-purchase in-ride photograph by an impressively mustachioed pineapple?
Put out your campfire!
The restroom sign at a temple in Kyoto.
I liked this one seen in Singapore because the little guy really does look sorry, doesn't he?
And from the "stereotypes exist for a reason" files, we have these two signs seen right next to one another here in Okinawa.
It's not their fault. The Japanese have one sound sort of between the English /l/ and /r/ sounds, so the two are interchangeable for them. One night when my friend Michelle was at a party with me while her Okinawan husband went to a wedding, he texted her to say he hoped she was having a good time with me. He had a 50/50 chance at my name and thankfully, for the sake of us getting a good laugh out of it, texted "Have fun with Roli!"
I think that's all the interesting Asian signs I've got (so far) that I haven't already shown you. Until next time!
Raj says this isn't true, but I'm not so sure. Maybe it'll come back, but at the moment, I am well and truly over literacy. Unfortunately, this fact will not spare me from writing a twenty-ish page paper on the topic over the course of the next month. Plus all the work for my other two classes.
Still, Raj and I took advantage of his long weekend for Columbus Day to go on a fun getaway to the mainland to meet up with friends for a sake festival in Hiroshima and sightseeing there and in Kobe. Here are some photos from the weekend:
Lori, those pictures were clearly taken inside your house.
Ok, so we were going to go on this fun getaway, but then there was a typhoon. Typhoon Vongfong, which means wasp, which made it sound a lot more intimidating than the previous Neoguri, meaning raccoon, though it ended up being the weaker of the two. It didn't really get here until Saturday, but it was windy enough out by Friday afternoon to cancel our flight off the island. Hence the grill and recycle bin inside the house. So we spent the whole weekend on grad school work, which was kind of maybe for the best, though it was obviously far less fun than a sake festival. And makes for less interesting photos for you.
I did go on a day trip last week with some fellow ladies who haven't gotten full-time jobs yet to hike down to a waterfall and then swim. The two of us with husbands in the medical business arrived home to questions about how we were enjoying our leptospirosis, but we probably don't even have that at all. I think they were just jealous that they had to go to work while we went here:
We also stopped by this dam to take photos
where we saw this sign
And we went up to Cape Hedo, the northernmost point on Okinawa, where the combination of sun and windiness made it especially photogenic.
I'm paying for that whole day off from paper writing now, but I still think it was a good decision to go. We have to be reminded every once in a while that there's more to this island than the view from our patio door while we work on reading instruction models and statistics. (Statistics is Raj, not me, thank goodness.)
I do get out roughly once a week to our local Stairway to Heaven for a workout with my neighbor Stephanie. I finally took my phone last week so I could take photos. Here it is as we approach. You can see most, though not all, of the stairs here.
The view from the top is pretty nice, as is the breeze up there. What I need to get a photo of is the World's Most Giant Snail who lives on these stairs. A critter of his size would be somewhat alarming, were he something more menacing than a superhuge snail.
Last week, Stephanie and I were meeting her friend Jen there. Jen beat us to the stairs and texted Stephanie about some stair climbing regulars she'd seen there.
The text read: The bitches are wearing weighted vests.
I felt certain that Jen and I could be friends.
And now you're all caught up. Unless I have any volunteers to finish a rough draft of this section of my paper (perhaps one of you happens to be an expert on what the professional literature tells us about the need for/rationale behind Sustained Silent Reading?) I better get back to work.
Hello, Internet! I should be working on grad school work right now. There is never a time these days when this isn't true. It is the constant.
But I'm taking a break to watch the Packers on Friday Morning Football, write a post for you, and run electric currents through my back and shoulders. I seem to have developed a studying-related injury. All the knots in my neck, shoulders, and back have joined to form The One Knot. One knot to rule them all, them all being the muscles that allow me to sit upright and turn my neck. I'd take a muscle relaxer, but I should be working on grad school work right now. The massage therapist I'd been seeing is on doctor-ordered rest pending her upcoming knee surgery and my second string shoulder massager (i.e., Raj) is still back in the States. He flies in Sunday night, when a typhoon may or may not be near us. Let's all pull for not.
He's finishing up a two week class on medical management in Bethesda. First though, we went to New Mexico to visit his parents, grandma, and uncles. We also got to do some sightseeing, like this trip to the Taos Pueblo, where I could just not take enough pictures that weren't going to do justice to the beauty of the sky.
Then we went to DC for Tom and Cynthia's wedding. It was a quick trip there for me, but I did get to see a few friends, eat some good pizza, and hit up Target. It was a beautiful wedding and fun to get dressed up and celebrate with friends from Raj's submarine days.
We'll look quite similar next month when wearing the same outfits to the Marine birthday ball, except I'll be getting my hair done. My dress is by Jessica Simpson and since it'll be my ballgown, I think that makes Jessica Simpson my fairy godmother. If she could fix me up a pumpkin carriage, that woud really help out with the designated driver problem.
Now I better get back to school work. I've got a 20-ish page paper due later this month. If you have any questions about Sustained Silent Reading, I'll be well able to answer them by October 26. Provided I get all this research done. Here I go.
Poor, neglected blog. At least it isn't growing any mildew, like my poor neglected bathtub was until very recently.
I went to Singapore and Malaysia! When I returned, school had already started, both grad and middle. This is my last semester of grad school (YAY!) but it's going to be a bitch while it lasts. I have three classes this semester, one of which is my capstone project for the masters degree. Another of which features a professor who apparently believes adult grad students have nothing else to do with their time than post to discussion boards and comment on one another's posts at precisely spaced yet confusingly timed intervals. Middle school, on the other hand, remains as chill as ever since I'm working again as an AVID tutor with very little responsibility. So at least there's that.
Today, I'm (finally) writing a blog post, doing a bunch of grad school work, and last minute shopping to pack for yet another trip. Raj and I had decided to split our friends' weddings this year, with me going to Holly's and him going to his friends Tom and Cynthia's September DC wedding. Except there's a class Raj needs to take that's offered at Bethesda the two weeks after the wedding, so by signing up for it, he was able to get his ticket covered by the Navy. So as my birthday present, he's buying me a ticket to come along. We'll spend a week in New Mexico visiting his family before flying to DC for the wedding. Then I'll come back here and he'll stay there for his class.
So...uh...do you want to see some pictures of Singapore and Malaysia? Probably that's more fun for you than if I paste in the journal article annotation I'm working on for grad school. Most likely.
'Til next time...
Since my last trip was to mainland Japan, my cell service still worked, allowing me to have important conversations via text with my husband, even while far away.
Two friends from the US planned to visit me during our time in Asia and both picked this month to do it, so later today I'm off again, but this time to Singapore and Malaysia, where my iPhone and I will be at the mercy of the wifi signal. So you may be waiting until sometime after the 26th to hear from me again. And Raj will have to wait until I can get a strong enough connection to Skype before hearing about the questionable things I've eaten each day. I know the suspense will be killing him.
One step at a time.
Ok, I guess a better title would be more along the lines of How We Climbed Mt. Fuji. I just thought I'd include some practical info in case any of you crazies were considering following in our bootsteps.
A lot of people head straight out from Tokyo the day of their hike, but we decided to go the day before to enjoy some of the scenery at the bottom. So we took the circuitous journey I wrote about in the last post to Kanagawa Station, where a van from our hostel, K's House Mt. Fuji, picked us up. Once there, we enjoyed some ramen (bib-free), walking around the lake, and souvenir shopping.
We both decided against the wooden climbing sticks that are the go-to Fuji souvenir. You can (for around $3 a pop) get them branded at each station along the way to the top. The thing is, it's not terribly functional as a walking stick so you invest around $10-15 plus another $18 in stamps, carry it up and down the mountain, and then when you get it home, you do what with it? If you're me, you likely stick it in a corner and end up tossing it sometime in the next move or two.
Like most people, we started from the 5th (of 10) station, which is as far as you can ride a bus up the mountain. Also like most people, we planned to arrive at the top in time for the sunrise. Not only is the sunrise pretty, the time around sunrise is when the top is least likely to be entirely covered in clouds, so it's your best shot at having a view. Unlike many people, we did not book a mountain hut for sleeping. Most people will hike part or most of the way, stop to sleep in a hut for a few hours, then set off closer to dawn. This costs a lot of money though and consists of a spot on the floor in a sleeping bag, shoulder to shoulder with the next person. We followed Raj's advice to just suck it up and hike overnight, which I do think was the best plan since I can't imagine I'd have gotten any sleep anyway.
We got to the 5th station early since we were a bit concerned that there might not be any lockers for our luggage, in which case we'd have to take a bus back down to leave them at Kanagawa Station. Which we hoped to avoid so we could just take the bus straight from the 5th station to Tokyo upon finishing the climb. We got the last two lockers in one shop and then ate lunch, looked around the shops, and generally killed time until around 6, when we used the free restroom one last time and then set off up the Yoshida Trail.
I took a picture of this because I'd read a blog post in which the guy and his friend had accidentally taken the wrong trail down when it split and then had to hike back up and down again to get to the right 5th station (there are several) to get the bus. We didn't want to take any chances on extra hiking, so I took the picture and we tried to memorize the kanji in case the trail wasn't marked in English. (It was.) Here's how we looked before leaving:
Again, for the benefit of anyone who might be planning to do this, here's how we dressed and packed. I started in a running shirt and spandex running capris under rain pants. I knew at some point, I'd need to take the rain pants off to put on long underwear and with the spandex capris, this wouldn't need to happen in a bathroom, which I'd heard (accurately) were not a place a person would want to spend more time than was entirely necessary. Amy has bike shorts under her hiking pants for the same reason.
So, what you'll want are base layers that are wicking material (NOT COTTON!), wicking socks (mine are Smartwool), and good hiking shoes or boots. I have weak ankles, so more ankle support was better in my case. Next, you'll want rain gear - pants and jacket. Later, we both added long underwear pants and shirt. Toward the end, I put my fleece (and Amy put her compact down jacket) under the rain jacket. Plus stocking cap and mittens. Oh, and a watch was good to have and you'll obviously want a camera. I used my iPhone.
at the 8th Station at some indeterminate time late at night
You absolutely must have a headlamp if you're climbing overnight. We also both were very happy with our decision to wear gardening gloves and found them very useful during the scramble portion (Amy, an accomplished outdoorswoman, tells me scramble is the technical term for the part of the climb where there were lots of medium-size rocks a person with excellent coordination and balance could probably walk up but for which we had to use our hands quite often) and to protect our hands from skinning on the way down when we were quite sure we'd be falling down a lot (though we only fell once, both in the same spot).
You will also want to have a lot of hundred yen coins for the bathrooms (most were 200 yen, though at the top it's 300) and money for food or beverages you may want to purchase. Also: water. I didn't have any idea how much I'd need, so I just filled the Camelback, which held 2 liters. I ended up running out on the way down, but the one bottle I bought was plenty for the rest of the hike. I also packed a couple of Cliff Bars, a bag of pumpkin seeds, and some dried mango. We bought a Cup O'Noodles and a Snickers bar each on the way up. (You guys, Snickers really DOES satisfy.)
Other things we packed included hand warmers, which were wonderful at the top, and safety blankets which I'm not sure were super-helpful, but they take up no space and weigh nothing. We also took gaiters and bandanas because we were told on the way down there would be a lot of rocks getting in our boots and dust in our noses and mouths. Maybe it was less windy for us or it wasn't crowded since we left ahead of the crowd or maybe the people who suggested them had kicked up a lot of dust by running down the mountain, but we didn't find them necessary. Still, both were helpful for added warmth at the top and neither weighed much, so no regrets.
As I said, we left around 6:15 p.m. from the 5th station. We went slowly and took frequent breaks to catch our breath. (Team Tortoise!) The 6th station comes pretty early in the hike, but at later stations, we'd usually sit on a bench long enough to get cold, then set off again. We ended up getting to the higher stations right around the time there were big groups of people leaving, which I think was shifts of sleepers getting kicked out. We were pacing ourselves to avoid getting to the top too early since we knew it would be really cold up there to have to sit too long. Still, we wanted to beat the sunrise, which would be around 4:45, and I'd read there would be a huge crowd causing a big bottleneck around that time, so we thought we'd try to be a bit early.
We hit that big bottleneck much earlier than anticipated, just before Station 8.5, and were in a steady and very slow stream of hikers from there all the way to the top. This made the end of the hike take at least twice as long as it otherwise would have.
That's a picture taken looking down the mountain at the hikers behind us, each spot of light being a headlamp. Near the top, we hiked into a cloud, which made everything all misty for the rest of the hike. We were maybe ten or twenty yards from the summit when the sun broke through the clouds for the first time just before 5:00. Everyone oohed and aahed and it was gone again before we could get to our cameras.
We made it to the top soon after and sat down to rest, eat, and take photos of the sun's many more brief appearances.
Amy went to find the restroom and discovered a place that had coffee and soup and was actually LETTING PEOPLE INSIDE to eat and drink! See, even if you buy food from the huts on the way up, you can't go inside unless you've paid to sleep. And since it was ridiculously cold and my head was very much demanding caffeine, this was very exciting news.
By the time we got to the establishment in question,
the clouds were burning off, making it feel at least a little bit worth having hiked all the way up for the sunrise. We were pretty lucky since sometimes it can take hours for the clouds to part, if they do at all.
We were even more thankful for our thick mittens when the man outside plucked two cans of coffee out of buckets of boiling water with tongs and handed them to us. Then we were allowed inside to sit and warm up while we waited for our coffee cans to cool down sufficiently to not burn our lips off. Initially, we'd planned to walk around the top so Amy could see and photograph the crater (she's a science teacher, teaching volcanoes this year) and to get a selfie in front of the summit sign. By the time we finished our coffee, we were only too happy to skip both in favor of getting off that [redacted] mountain as quickly as possible.
So we took a selfie in front of this post, from the side rather than waiting in line for the front since we didn't know what either said anyway. See how happy we look? We are thinking of the hot tub at our hotel in Tokyo and how soon we might be able to be in it.
We were also just a bit punchy from lack of sleep and oxygen. Also very excited about the idea of being warm, clean, dry, and seated in the not too distant future. We made it down in about four hours. A Japanese man we passed early on was VERY concerned about us not having any hiking sticks, which made us concerned about how badly we might need them. We were especially thinking about the scramble bit there. Except the route down splits off and bypasses the scramble entirely. It's almost all switchbacks of dirt path with lots of rocks. We got pretty good at just taking long sliding sideways steps down it. No hiking sticks needed.
Right at the very end, when you can see the 5th station, there's a pretty long concrete uphill path that we made it up at a surprisingly good clip, fued by a powerful desire to just be done already. We bought tickets for the 11:00 bus to Tokyo, picked up our luggage and changed into flip flops (aaaaahhhh!), ate some dumplings, and used the restroom before boarding and getting the [redacted] off Fuji.
Mainland Japan didn't exactly get off on the right foot with us. We met up at Haneda airport just fine and made it to the neighborhood of our hotel. We decided for a uniquely Japanese experience, to spend our first night in a capsule hotel. Google Maps got us to the block where it was located and we then wandered back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, before asking a friendly-looking Japanese girl for help. She couldn't find it either, but then a man handing out flyers for a club overheard us talking and showed us the elevator for where it was located above an English pub. We got inside, locked up our shoes in a shoe locker in the lobby, and located our capsules without incident.
Then we decided to go out for dinner. We walked down the street, found an udon restaurant, went in and were seated. Then we waited a very long time while the waitstaff buzzed by without stopping until a Japanese man next to us flagged someone down to take our order. Udon is a type of noodle typically served in broth. After taking our order, our waiter returned. With bibs.
We scanned the room and noticed that not a single other person in the restaurant had a bib. We were also the only foreigners there. We put the bibs in our laps. The waiter looked vaguely apologetic. When our food arrived, my noodles were in sauce more so than broth and on my tray: a fork.
The fork and bib got the same amount of usage, which consisted of posing for this photo.
We returned to our hotel where Amy was very excited about taking a shower (she'd flown from DC to Paris, spent a 12 hour layover seeing the sights and eating the cheese, then on to Tokyo, making for one very long day) though after standing in a long line, she reported that there wasn't much water pressure. Around 10pm, we closed the rolling shades at the entrance to our capsules to go to sleep. There really was plenty of space in there (unless you're much taller than I am, 5'6, in which case it would be a bit short for you) and the shade rather than door kept it from feeling coffin-like, though it didn't block noise at all.
Some American girls were loudly talking and there was the jingle of keys on bracelets as women went by us to the bathroom. But that would taper off and it would get quiet. Right?
Nope. The jingling just kept going and going. Apparently, the cleaning lady worked overnight while wearing one of these for some reason. I thought maybe I was just being an oversensitive light sleeper, but no, even Amy after being awake for over 24 hours only got a couple hours of sleep. I gave up at 5:30 and got up to shower when there was no line and plenty of water pressure.
We went out for breakfast and coffee, checked out, and were then completely unable to find our bus to Kanagawa Station, near Mt Fuji, or get directions to it. So we bought train tickets and went to our platform. Where we were told that it was the platform for the local and we had tickets for the express on a different platform. It was about time for our train to leave, so we sprinted downstairs and back up to the correct platform, where the conductor said there had been an accident on that line and we could either wait (one hour...or two?) for that train or just take the local, where we'd have to switch trains partway. So we went back and got on a local train, proceeded to miss our stop and go very far out of the way before turning back and getting on a train to the station where were supposed to switch and then paying extra to get on an express from there to our actual destination.
This, folks, is why you want to carefully choose your travel buddies. This could have gone very badly, espcially considering we were both sleep deprived. Instead, we just kept saying how it was good that it was all happening that day because we really didn't have anything planned for the afternoon anyway. And maybe we were using up all of our bad travel luck and would have good travel luck the rest of the time. Amy and I had done a bit of travel together back when I lived in DC, long weekends to Virginia Beach for a half-marathon and to Rehoboth Beach for the beach, but we'd also done a whole lot of running together. When you run with someone, much like when you travel with someone, you see them at their worst, when they are tired and stressed and frustrated, and see how they deal with those things. And how you deal with how they deal with them. We pretty much kept our collective cool and were rewarded with a quiet hostel room that night, good travel luck in the week to follow, and one adorable train for the last leg of that day's journey.
You guys, I am posting this FROM A BULLET TRAIN. I love living in the future.
Since I'm posting from my phone, this will be a quick one. But I thought you should probably know that I climbed a mountain. Mt. Fuji, to be exact. Only the tallest mountain in Japan. I accomplished this feat with my friend and former coworker Amy. She's from Colorado, but fortunately (for me) currently lives in Maryland, so she was also not training at altitude. So we both agreed to a Slow and Steady (with frequent short breaks) plan of attack. Which is how we came to refer to ourselves as Team Tortoise and our climb as the Turtle Trot.
Before you get too impressed, allow me to clarify that there's no actual skill involved in climbing Fuji. It's just a very long, very steep hike, for the most part. We felt like having trained together for half marathons came in handy as we were able to accept that yes, we were tired and sore and it was far from over and was going to just plain suck for long stretches of time. And it did. There's a reason the Japanese proverb is something along the lines of: a wise man climbs Fuji but only a fool climbs Fuji twice.
The actual impressive part is that I only fell down about two or three times the entire way up AND back down. I expected it to be easily ten times that amount. It does help to have a total willingness to use one's hands and/or butt at any time.
I'll write a real post later with pictures and everything, but right now Team Tortoise is off to Kyoto, where we'll shuffle our way around the temples, shrines, and palaces. Slow and Steady (with frequent short breaks) (for coffee or ice cream).
You know how sometimes something ridiculous happens to you (or maybe you make the ridiculous thing happen) and you think, "This could only happen to me."
Today, I was making arroz con pollo in the crock pot. The directions said to put the rice in the crock pot, stir it up with a tablespoon of oil and turn it on high while you chop the vegetables. I put the rice and oil in our small crock pot, then chopped an onion, red pepper, green pepper, cayenne pepper, four tomatoes, and four cloves of garlic. (Without cutting myself!) I added a quarter cup of white wine, then started dumping in my vegetables. At which point it became clear that my small crock pot was too small for all of this, plus broth and chicken. So I got out our big crock pot, put it in the sink, and started dumping the contents of the small one into it.
The small crock pot was hot, so I was holding it with pot holders and it kind of slipped into the big crock. And got completely wedged in.
This is the point at which I 1.) begin giving the bottle of wine the side-eye, 2.) think that if I can just get it unstuck before Raj gets home, nobody will ever need to know about this, 3.) take a picture because of course I'm going to tell the internet.
That thing was not budging. The only thing I could think of to get it unstuck would be to run cold water over it, but that wasn't going to work with our entire dinner inside. Fortunately, we happen to have a third medium-size crock pot.
Actually, it's our rice cooker. Before we left DC, Raj's friend's mom had us over for a lesson in Indian cooking. When her husband found out that we didn't have a rice cooker, he was appalled and promised to buy us one as a wedding gift. I have to say, I think this is the Cadillac of rice cookers. It's also a steamer and a slow cooker. When we leave Okinawa, this will be high on the list of items going in our express shipment back to the US since it does so many things.
Anyway, I dumped everything in there, spent quite some time trying to fish out all of the vegetables that were stuck between the two crocks, then added the broth and chicken and got the whole thing cooking. And realized I forgot to buy the frozen peas that were supposed to go in at the end, which will probably be pretty much the least of this dinner's problems.
I did eventually get the crocks unstuck. I washed both and did consider just hiding the evidence and pretending it never happened before beginning to mentally compose this blog post.
Then I decided to press my kitchen luck by making snickerdoodles because we've got new neighbors and I want to take them something and say hello. Cookie dough isn't a risk though. Cookie dough behaves. Except for the way that bits of it sneak into my mouth prior to baking. Why you gotta be so delicious, cookie dough?
The dough is currently chilling in the fridge in the mixer bowl. On another occasion when the same thing was happening, Raj noticed the bowl wasn't in the mixer and started to say, "Where's the..." then started laughing before continuing, "...it's not called the cookie thing." It's not, but it kind of may as well be. I've kneaded dough and whipped cream in there, but probably 90% of my mixer's use is related to cookies. And the dough all fits in the bowl every single time.
I suppose we can't switch to an all cookie diet, no matter how much some of us may like the idea of that plan. So the adventures in cooking continue. But first: wine.
Update: After eating this, I can say that the results aren't really even worth all the chopping, much less the added sturm und drang, so I've removed the link. The snickerdoodles, on the other hand, are delightful as always.
Five years ago today, I spent the afternoon at the pool with my roommates, Holly and Jenny. We stopped at Dairy Queen for Blizzards before heading home, where I took a shower, got ready, then ran out the door because I'd taken far too long choosing an outfit. I drove across San Antonio to a Thai restaurant I'd never been to, but which had the best online reviews. It wasn't in the nicest neighborhood and looked like a converted 7Eleven. With bars on the windows. Yikes. The inside wasn't so bad though and was small enough I could quickly scan the whole place and see that my date wasn't there yet. I was seated facing the door and a couple of minutes later I saw him walk in, all tall, dark and handsome.
I could tell you I knew in that instant that my life had changed forever, but I'd be lying. In the following weeks, I would rue my rotten luck that the great guy I finally met had to live so far away. Neither of us really thought this thing we had could survive the distance. And yet, here we are. Deciding to go on that date five years ago changed everything for the better.
The song in this edition of A Year in Raj and Lori Selfies is Sara Bareilles's I Choose You. Yes, it does kind of sound like an early relationship or even wedding song and I picked it for the fifth year of our relationship, when we've already been married for a while.
The thing is, the wedding vows I wrote for us (which, no matter what my husband may repeatedly claim, did not include the word obey) began with "I choose you today to be my lifelong partner and I promise, no matter where life takes us or what difficulties we face, to choose you every day." Many of you will likely be completely shocked to learn that I am not at all times a total delight. I know, I know. It's hard to believe. But sometimes, I can be selfish, moody, irrational, lazy, fearful, and uncommunicative. Despite all of that and even when he may not particularly like me in a given moment, Raj chooses every day to love me. I'm so grateful for that.
While our fifth year together started in July, we weren't physically together until September, when I met his ship in Hong Kong. He was gone again for a week at Thanksgiving and two months in the spring, but we still managed to pack in trips to Spain, Hong Kong and Macau, Kyoto and Seoul, along with some local shenanigans. Also, Raj promoted to Lieutenant Commander with a pinning on ceremony in his CO's office and I taught for the first time with my complicated married name while long-term subbing. We wore our green rain jackets in a lot of selfies, proving that some things stay the same.
There's just too much to attempt to organize into paragraphs. So instead, have a numbered list of things that have happened recently.
1. Raj's parents came to visit. Before they came to Okinawa, we met them in Kyoto. And we fell in love with Kyoto. So much more charming than Tokyo. While we both loved Hong Kong and Seoul, we agreed that if we were choosing an Asian city to live in, we'd go with Kyoto. We visited temples, palaces, and other cultural sites which were all quite nice, but the highlight for Raj and me was getting some authentic Spanish food. Which may sound strange, but not only is there not a Spanish restaurant on Okinawa, we can't get the ingredients to make a lot of the food ourselves. And we do so love to eat. But the culture and whatnot was nice too.
Not so nice? Coffee jelly. Which is coffee-flavored Jello. Coffee? Good. Jello? Good. Coffee Jello?
2. We went to Seoul to visit our friends there who were about to move (and have since moved) back to the US. We had a great time hanging out with them and their two boys, exploring more of Seoul, and eating delicious Korean food. We also achieved one of our Asian shopping goals. The new dishes we got from our wedding registry only came with very small bowls. Our old dishes had large shallow bowls that we've been missing every time we have soup, pasta, or anything else that's more of a bowl than a plate kind of dinner. Thanks to Korea, we now not only have functional bowls, we also have an excuse to say my favorite word: bibimbap. We bought bibimbap bowls. Bibimbap is a traditional Korean dish in which rice, vegetables, eggs, and sauce are combined in a large bowl. We haven't made actual bibimbap yet, but we can say for sure that the bowls work well for curry.
3. I went to the US for my very good friend Holly's wedding. Raj started a new job last month, so it was going to be difficult for him to come anyway, but then one of his closest friends decided to get married in DC in September. Raj actually introduced the couple, the bride being another friend of his from a different social circle. Four round-trip tickets for both of us to attend both weddings was going to be insanely expensive, so we're each attending stag. Except I did have a date, my BFF Amy.
In addition to seeing Holly get married...
...highlights of the trip included family and friends, queso and margaritas, Chipotle, Target, a cherry limeade from Sonic, and shopping in non-commissary grocery stores. The lowlight of the trip was the upper respiratory infection or bronchitis or major allergic reaction to San Antonio's air crud that had me coughing, coughing, coughing for about two weeks. Including during part of the wedding ceremony, in which I was a bridesmaid. I got a lot of meds though from the urgent care and was getting better in time for my return to Okinawa.
4. I came home! The next day, Raj mentioned that he was getting a sore throat. This turned into the Mucous Cold of Doom, 2014 Edition which I of course immediately caught. We were so sick, we couldn't even properly enjoy the typhoon. Yes, I know that sounds weird. It's just that Okinawa is so well prepared for typhoons that people actually kind of look forward to them. It's a day off from work (in this case, making for what ended up being a six-day weekend for Raj since he'd had Friday and Monday off for 4th of July, the typhoon came Tuesday, then non-essential personnel were off an uncharacteristic additional day on Wednesday due to flooding of some roads) when you have a good excuse to stay inside all day and eat snack food you bought just in case you can't cook due to a power outage. This was a pretty major typhoon, so there was damage even here on Okinawa, mostly cars flooded in parking lots where the drains clogged with debris, though some people had flooding in their homes, some cars flipped, and lots of people had leaking windows and/or ceilings. Many people did lose power, though I think everyone was back on by the next day. Our only damage was a downed palm tree in the front yard.
I even tempted fate by baking bread during the thick of the storm, which seemed likely to mean the power would go out as soon as I got it in the oven, but we never did lose power or even internet. We were able to microwave leftovers, resulting in an unintentionally super-international dinner:
Malaysian chicken, caprese salad, kimchi pancake (we also bought a kimchi pot in Korea, which Raj has been using to make homemade kimchi), and Spanish squash soup, enjoyed with a glass of wine from New Zealand. Looking at this photo, I realize my entire contribution to this meal was having cut the mozzarella. Lazybones.
And now you're all caught up on what we've been up to. And what we've been eating because while I had no intention of making this a food-focused post, it did turn out that way, didn't it? I guess we all know where my head is. You may be unsurprised to learn that I'm off to eat lunch now (capered egg and sardine sandwich filling on homemade bread, both of which I made since I'm less sick and once again a contributing member of this household). I swear, I really will do my best to post more often again and maybe even about something other than food. Maybe.
Internet. Has it really been three weeks? I feel like it must have been since I've been on three trips since last telling you anything, but still. The time gets away. Especially when you're (ok, I'm) packing, unpacking, packing, unpacking, packing...
Obviously the lack of posts isn't for lack of things to write about. I just don't seem to ever have the time, mental energy, and internet access all at the same moment. And then more time passes and I start to feel like whatever comes after so much nothing really needs to be, you know, Something. But maybe it just needs to be, you know...something.
Also, I don't even have to figure out where to start with so many things to write about since I've had a specific request. From my husband. Who requested yet another poem (though instead of an epic, this time he decided a haiku wold be more appropriate, since the incident in question happened in Japan) regarding his most recent heroic rescue of me. I pointed out that A) Immediately after the incident in question, I thanked him for rescuing me, to which he responded, "It wasn't really a rescue." and B) He has specifically told me that he doesn't like for me to say nice things about him online. Still, the request stands.
Scene: Our house, late one evening a few weeks ago. I'm downstairs watching TV. Raj is upstairs, prepping his uniform for work the next day (which, as I understand it, involves ironing it and then pinning all his pieces of flair back on).
I catch movement out of the corner of my eye. Typically, this is the result of having moved my head while catching a glance of the cord from Raj's computer charger. Except this time, it's not. Oh no, it's a three to four-inch long CENTIPEDE. ON MY LIVINGROOM FLOOR.
Me: COME DOWN HERE.
(He would later explain that he thinks a person should state their business when yelling upstairs. He doesn't like to be yelled for, like the person just assumes he knows he's supposed to come down. I explained how never, in nearly five years of our relationship have I yelled for him from another room, let alone another floor and he should, therefore, have understood that he was urgently needed.)
He came down to find me sitting on the arm of the far side of the couch, pointing at where the centipede had been until it had time to scurry off and hide while Raj ignored me. It had been under the end table next to an upholstered chair, so I assumed it had gone under the chair.
Raj flipped over the chair. He looked and looked. He turned the chair upright again and looked some more. We checked the surrounding area. No centipede. Raj shrugged his shoulders, clearly planning to give up the hunt and go back upstairs, like people can just go on living in a house known to contain a four-inch centipede and ever plan to sleep again.
Oh. Hell. No.
While he had very recently misread my panicked shouting of his name, he did not miss the meaning of my facial expression in that moment. Soon after, I spotted it clinging to the side of the chair. Raj went and got one of my flip flops with which to kill it. These flip flops are made of yoga mat material. The thing was on flap of an upholstered chair and, upon falling/jumping off, would land on soft carpet. And I'd recently seen a Facebook post by a Marine who had stepped on a similar centipede on a hard floor with her boot and not managed to kill it. So I suggested that the flip flop was not the best plan.
Raj accepted my offer of the vacuum. I plugged it in and handed him the hose from what he believes was an unreasonable distance away. He tried to suck it up. It fought its way back out. Which was doubly upsetting because the vacuum was my entire plan for if I saw one when Raj wasn't home. (My current plan involves trying to get it to stick itself to the broom, then tossing the broom outside and leaving it there indefinitely.)
What ended up happening was that I held the vacuum hose near it so it couldn't run away, Raj grabbed the centipede with kitchen tongs, took it outside and smashed it with his flip flop on the concrete patio.
Me: Thank you for rescuing me.
Raj: It wasn't really a rescue.
Slayer of dragons
Or of arthropods, at least,
Raj is my hero
You can tell I'm very grateful to him for killing that thing since I have put here in writing the phase "Raj is my hero". You may not recall that in a post several years ago, I called Raj a genius for having brought dark chocolate for our s'mores when we went camping. I can't help but recall it though, as I am very regularly reminded, "I'm a genius. It says so on the internet." So I express my admiration of his bravery in the face of killer vermin despite a very real threat that increased obnoxiousness will be the result. Very, very real.
I've mentioned before how Raj and I tend to turn things into a competition. Many things. Most things.
Sometimes we'll be sitting on the couch together watching TV or reading and I'm overcome with the urge to poke him. It's irresistible. Even though what happens every time is that Raj will look at me with raised eyebrows and say, "Do you ever win at feats of strength?" Sometimes that's the end of it.
Usually it's not. Because I just need to poke him again. I can't help myself. This always ends with me pinned down, Raj using one hand to hold both of my wrists and the other to tickle me. I never win at feats of strength.
Even walking down the street holding hands, we can't last long without turning it into a competition. You'd think I'd have some chance since I usually use both arms against Raj's one, but I still never win. We were in Kyoto a few days ago, walking hand in hand through the palace grounds and Raj asked me to switch sides and hold his left hand instead of his right. He has tendonitis in his right shoulder and it's been bothering him a lot recently. So he wanted to switch to his left arm because the feats of strength really hurt his right shoulder, but losing was still not an option.
"How much pain would you have to be in before you'd let me win?"
"NEVER WHILE I DRAW BREATH!"
Scene: Our kitchen. A couple of weeks ago.
Raj: Almost done with finals?
Me: Two due Monday and two due Thursday. After Thursday, I'll be a whole new woman.
Raj: (hopefully) Natalie Portman?
Unfortunately, no. Still me, just breathing a whole lot easier. And with so much free time! When I finish writing this, I'm going to clean out the big closet under the stairs where I have been steadily shoving things for months now. God only knows what might be in there. (If God knows about any centipedes, He could do me a solid by relocating them outside in the next several minutes. Amen.)
Turns out four grad school classes at once, while inadvisable, is do-able. At least, as long as you only work about twelve hours a week and have no children. It probably doesn't hurt to have your husband gone for a couple of months of the semester either. Fewer distractions and less cooking.
Finishing this semester means seven classes down, four to go. I'm enrolled in one this summer and the other three in the fall, so I should be able to graduate in December. Score one for not being able to teach here - it would have taken me at least two or three more semesters to finish while working full-time.
Right now, I'm pretty excited about the freedom to read things that aren't about literacy. Along with Language Acquisition, last semester I took Foundations of Literacy, Assessment and Correction of Reading Disabilities, and Making a Difference for the Struggling Reader. You guys, that's a lot of reading about reading.
(For anyone out there who might be a reading teacher in secondary schools, I cannot recommend When Kids Can't Read, What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers 6-12 by Kylene Beers strongly enough. So many practical strategies explained so well. Once I recover from my literacy fatigue, I intend to order her other books.)
I'm pleased to report that unlike during my undergrad years, I've actually done every bit of reading assigned for my grad school classes. It helps a lot that I've actually worked in the profession I'm studying and know how (ok, and sometimes whether) the reading will benefit me. And most of it has been pretty interesting.
My major concern was that I'd forget to do things, particularly with so much to keep track of. I created my own weekly planner, with boxes at the top for each class where I write down all of my assignments for the week and then a box for each day of the week and a Reminders box where I write due dates, to do lists, and reminders for the next week. Also sometimes what I was planning to cook each night for weeks when I was together enough to meal plan (and when Raj was home - no need to write "graze on whatever's in the fridge and pantry" in the planner on weeks when he was gone).
I used the backs to write notes. Here they were on Voicethread posts from classmates. Voicethread is a shiny new toy to Mizzou professors, where you can post video and audio comments. A couple of my professors just loved for us to have discussions using it instead of a boring old text-based discussion board. The pain in the butt part being that in order to comment back to someone, you have to remember who said what rather than being able to just reread it. Also, if you have slow internet (*raises hand*) it can take quite some time to watch everyone's video comments.
This planner system has worked well enough that in two semesters, the only thing I've forgotten to do was a third Voicethread comment one week. (I didn't forget about it so much as really believe, wrongly, that I'd already done it.) I did nearly forget to do one assignment this semester, but in my defense, it was one of three due that week for one professor that had "synthesis" in the assignment title. Fortunately, I remembered in time, adding my fluency synthesis to my journal synthesis and my learning synthesis. Whew.
The learning synthesis was meant to be a response to our learning throughout the entire semester so far. We could do it in whatever format worked best for us, including a sketch. I sent this to my sister as a possibility.
We decided that maybe I should go in a different direction with the assignment. Interpretive dance. Ok, fine, I made a web organizer showing how the things we'd learned connected, but a dance would have been much more awesome, if potentially detrimental to my grade. Particularly given that my dance skills are even less refined than my drawing skills. If that's even possible.
She did support me, however, in using a journal article by one of my professors as a source in my term paper for that same professor. Just brown-nosey enough, she thought. The professor did not comment on its inclusion in his feedback on my paper, but did note that my introductory review section was "nicely researched". (Disclaimer: I didn't seek out research by him - the article came up in a search on my topic and I would have used it, with less hesitation even, had he not been one of the authors.) (Why I feel the need to justify this to you I do not know.) (I'm not an insufferable brown-noser, Internet! Just a regular brown-noser!) (Please still like me!)
Ok, enough about The Semster of DOOM. Time to get back to enjoying the two weeks of break I have remaning. Beginning with a rumble with a closet. Then maybe I'll read a library book or clean the toilets. So many possibilities and nothing written in my planner at all.